In Memoriam: art dealer, auctioneer Peter Loughrey, 52

Peter Alexander Loughrey, founder, director and principal auctioneer of Los Angeles Modern Auctions. Submitted image

LOS ANGELES – Peter Alexander Loughrey, 52, a respected art dealer and founder of Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA), passed away on March 16 of cancer.

Loughrey was a formidable and visionary force in the auction world. He and his wife of 25 years, Shannon, built the first successful boutique auction house in the country dedicated exclusively to modern design. In addition to his role as LAMA’s founder, director and principal auctioneer, Loughrey was a skilled writer and curator whose passion for art and design lead him to work tirelessly to champion the stories of the art objects and artists he so admired. He was eventually introduced to the wider world as an appraiser on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, a program he joined in 2003.

Loughrey was born on Feb. 20, 1968, and grew up in Maryland’s idyllic Eastern Shore. His early stories paint a Tom Sawyeresque picture of a childhood spent fishing the local rivers, racing cars on empty wooded roads, and running with abandon along the tops of moving trains, jumping from car to car. It was this daredevil streak that would lead him out to Hollywood at the age of 20 to try his hand at being a stuntman. In Los Angeles, Loughrey began spending his weekends with his older brother, Joe, hunting for unique treasures at local estate sales. In 1989 they opened a design gallery together on LA’s La Brea Boulevard. That endeavor would evolve into the incredibly successful Los Angeles Modern Auctions, which simultaneously expanded and redefined the modern art market.

Peter survived cancer once before. At the age of 23, while undergoing intensive treatment at a Maryland hospital for four months, he reconnected with Shannon Carragher, a girl from his childhood. They married, moved to Los Angeles and over the next 25 years he became a pillar in the mid-20th century art world and the man many people knew and loved. Reflecting on his cancer battle, Peter said “I was given the gift of living another 25 years after my first diagnosis and have no regrets. The best thing that ever happened to me was having cancer at a young age as it defined my life. I lived my days to their fullest and on my own terms with the underlying thread that each day was a gift.”

Far from being an abstract pursuit, Peter and Shannon’s early foray into art auctions thrived due to their business acumen, subject expertise and, most importantly, for the genuine love of their clients, employees, artists, gallerists and the rest of the cast of the LA art scene. Despite being surrounded by some of the period’s most valuable objects, Peter always made it clear that his priorities were the people around him and the relationships he developed.

Shortly after his 50th birthday, Peter was diagnosed with a different form of cancer that eventually took his life. He passed away peacefully at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles beside his wife, her parents and his cousin Dermot Maher, all holding his hand.

All those who knew Peter will mourn, but they will also celebrate his existence and the fact that they were blessed to have known this man whose vast knowledge and passion for art and design was surpassed only by his kindness and generosity.

He leaves behind his loving wife, Shannon, his immediate family and hundreds of Irish cousins, as well as an enormous network of loyal friends who thought the world of him. He was preceded in death by his brother, Joe.

With the continued guidance of Shannon Loughrey, and along with her dedicated and expert staff, LAMA will continue to operate as before while celebrating Peter’s enduring legacy.

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